So here's my take on the Hellfire Warlock
Why the Hellfire Warlock needed an update
It is my opinion that the Hellfire Warlock does not do what it tries to do. The concept of the class is to provide a big bonus to power, very quickly, in exchange for your vital essence. It's a big bonus early on, to be sure, but because it is a static increase, it doesn't help the warlock compete any better at higher levels.
In many builds and campaigns, the Con damage is mitigated anyway by either the vestige Naberius or the soulmeld Strongheart Vest. So, for the cost of a dip in Binder or an Incarnum feat, you get +6d6 to damage. Mechanically nice? Sure. Flavorful? Not really.
Coupled with that, people realize that the damage provided by Hellfire Warlock isn't all that great at higher levels, and a lot of CharOp cheese has come out. Through the use of Bloodlines, Uncanny Trickster, and Legacy Champion, people try to advance Hellfire Warlock past its original three levels, gaining +2d6 to their Hellfire Blast over the course of 10 levels. In the end, if this type of nonsense is allowed, you get a warlock dealing 30d6 damage with only 1 Con damage.
What I've tried to do
What I've attempted to do with this build is to address some of those changes. I've officially recognized the use of Naberius or Strongheart Vest, but I've put limits on how much Con damage it mitigates per round. In addition, you'll see below that I've created (with help from others) a mechanic that rewards players who choose to not
negate the Con damage. In terms of fluff, one might think of it as the dark power within growing stronger over time through the sacrifice of a player's health, which allows the dark power to better empower the Warlock's eldritch blasts.
A Summary of the changes
- The entry level has been reduced to 6, rather than 10. This was an attempt to recognize that low level warlocks might greedily enter into a pact with a dark force to gain power, Faust-style.
- Hellfire has been changed to a Blast Essence. So you can't have a Vitriolic Hellfire Blast.
- Instead of providing a static increase to damage, which doesn't scale very well, we instead use modifiers to your existing Eldritch Blast.
- There is an incentive to not mitigate the Constitution damage by scaling the bonus damage to the damage that you're currently experiencing. So while you can legally use Naberius or a Strongheart Vest to mitigate it, you'll be limiting the full benefits of the class.
- The capstone is an Eldritch Blast Essence that bypasses SR. Vitriolic Blast does the same thing, but Acid Immunity negates the damage. This truly bypasses SR and resistances.
- Because the damage is advanced based on your Con damage, rather than a static increase by level, Bloodline/Legacy Champion cheese provides no benefit, aside from continuing to increase your invoker level. So you're better off returning to Warlock after taking Hellfire Warlock 5.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly about balance and flavor. I'd also be particularly interested in people's opinions on ways that this might be abused,
and whether it would be dangerous to allow this in combination with Eldritch Glaive.
The answer is yes. Eldritch Glaive is going to be specifically prohibited from using a Hellfire Blast.
Here's the latest iteration of this homebrew.
Skills: Intimidate 6 ranks, Knowledge (the planes) 8 ranks, Spellcraft 6 ranks.
Warlock Invocation: Must know brimstone blast or hellrime blast.
Hellfire Blast (Sp):
|1||Hellfire Blast, Fire Resistance 5||+1 level of existing invoking class|
|2||Hellfire Infusion, Fire Resistance 10||+1 level of existing invoking class|
|3||Hellfire Shield, Fire Resistance 20||+1 level of existing invoking class|
|4||Quick Burn, Immunity to Fire||+1 level of existing invoking class|
|5||Devastating Hellfire||+1 level of existing invoking class|
This is an Eldritch Blast Essence that you may apply to your eldritch blast. A hellfire blast deals your normal eldritch blast damage multipled by X (see chart below). If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage. This damage is not fire damage. Hellfire burns hotter than any normal fire, as described in the sidebar on page 119. You may not apply any other Blast Essence to an Eldritch Blast with the Hellfire Essence applied.
In addition, you may not combine an Eldritch Glaive and a Hellfire Blast. A Hellfire Warlock may use one, or the other, but not both in the same round.
Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability. Soulmelds and Vestiges are legal ways in which to heal the Constitution damage. However, only 1 point of Constitution damage elicited by using Hellfire can be mitigated each round. Even if you pump 2 essentia points into a Strongheart Vest, it will still only mitigate 1 point per round.
Your Hellfire Pool equals the number of Constitution damage you are currently suffering from due to usage of Hellfire. In case it's not clear, you start at 0 damage, fire a Hellfire Blast for x2 damage, and take 1 Con damage, giving you a Hellfire Pool total of 1. You don't actually get to fire a x2 Blast for 0 Con damage.
Hellfire Infusion (Su):
|Hellfire Pool||Extra Hellfire Damage|
Starting at 2nd level, you can infuse magic items that you wield with the power of hellfire. Whenever you use a charged magic item (such as a wand or a staff), you can apply one of the following metamagic effects to your next use of the item: empower, enlarge, widen, or energy substitution. These effects work just like the metamagic feats of the same name (the Energy Substitution feat is described on page 79 of Complete Arcane). Using hellfire infusion is a swift action. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum one). When you infuse an item with hellfire, it glows briefly with fiery symbols that are disturbing to look upon.
Hellfire Shield (Sp)
: Starting at 3rd level, you can call up hellfire to avenge yourself on your foes. Whenever someone directs a melee attack against you, you can, as an immediate action, cause Hellfire to leap from your body, striking that creature through their weapon. This blast deals damage equal to your eldritch blast (including bonus damage from the hellfire blast ability). This blast automatically strikes the target, which can attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Cha modifier). This counts toward your allowed number of attacks of opportunity for this round, and cannot be used twice in the same round against the same creature (so you get one attack against Bob the Barbarian, as he full attacks you for three iterative attacks).
Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability. Soulmelds and Vestiges are legal ways in which to heal the Constitution damage. However, only 1 point of Constitution damage elicited by using Hellfire can be healed each round.
Immunity to Fire (Ex):
At 4th level, you become immune to fire damage.
Quick Burn (Sp):
At 4th level, you may, rather than slowly working your way up the damage table, instead immediately skip to a higher damage tier. However, you pay the full Constitution damage price to reach it, and 1/2 of that Constitution damage takes the form of Constitution Drain.
Devastating Hellfire (Sp):
At 5th level, any time you apply your Hellfire Blast Essence, it becomes Devastating Hellfire. Your Hellfire Blast gains many of the benefits
of a Supernatural, rather than Spell-Like ability. It bypasses SR, cannot be dispelled or counterspelled, and cannot be disrupted. If your ranged attacks normally provoke attacks of opportunity, so does your Eldritch Blast, but the act of invoking a Hellfire Blast itself does not provoke an AoO. Your Hellfire Blast is still a SLA, however, which means that you may still apply metamagic-SLA feats to it.